Outsmarting SMART Strategic Goals That Miss the Mark – A 2013 Planning MUST

Sep 21, 2012

By this time of the year you have perspective. With Q1, Q2 and Q3 behind us, your annual division or business strategic goals should be within reach. Some of these goals however might seem as realistic as hitching a ride to Mars to joyride on the rover. There are valuable lessons from this that can be incorporated into your 2013 planning.

We’re not suggesting a hall pass be given to those whose goals have languished as a result of neglect, but this NASA-grade situation could be the result of several precursors:

Expectations vs. Capabilities

The best-laid plans do have to change. Unless you are operating in a bubble, we exist in a very dynamic world. Sometimes our tactics to achieve our vision (which does not change with shifting market realities) need to adjust accordingly.

While reviewing this year’s progress in preparation for 2013 planning, you should look at unfulfilled goals as an opportunity to assess your organizational effectiveness. This is not a “point-the-finger” exercise. This is about understanding where organizational expectations are disconnected from organizational capabilities. For those goals that are missing the mark, ask the following:

  1. Has something changed in the external environment (competitors, regulations, etc.) that has made accomplishing this goal unrealistic? Could you have been more proactive in addressing these changes internally? Address how you monitor your external environments in your next strategic planning retreat.
  2. Did your larger team, department or division goals properly cascade all dependent tasks to the right team and/or the right people? Goals that do not capture dependent tasks down to the individual assignment level are doomed. At your next strategic planning retreat, make sure you have enough time and effort scheduled to ensure plan goals get cascaded to the right folks.
  3. For goals that are assigned to the right people that did not have external forces impeding their progression, where was the breakdown? Interdependencies between teams, departments and divisions create an increased diligence in communicating. At your next strategic planning retreat, outline communication expectations, from a weekly, monthly and quarterly perspective. Don’t falter on this detail; communication is not a “soft” requirement.

Gaining Perspective

The net-net is that this time of the year offers us the gift of perspective. Look at your goals in the red, square in the bloodshot eye and don’t flinch. If you look hard enough, you may even get a glimpse into what your organization really needs to make strategy achievements a consistent reality. Use this perspective at your next retreat (which, by the way, you should start planning now).


How do you address goals that do not hit the mark?




What is 10 + 5 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
All fields are required.

Free Guides & Resources

Setting OKRs that Work

A FREE downloadable guide and canvas to build Objectives and Key Results.

SWOT Assessment Guide

A FREE downloadable guide and canvas to complete a SWOT analysis, synthesize it into Competitive Advantages, and then use your SWOT to create SMART goals.

Guide to Create KPIs with 100 Example Metrics

A FREE downloadable guide to learn the basics of Key Performance Indicators with 100 example metric sources for ever department of your organization.

Free Guide for Writing Better SMART Goals

Download the FREE guide to learn how to create goals that have impact in your organization.

Free Guide to Build a Growth Strategy

A FREE downloadable guide and canvas to create a growth strategy that clearly defines where you play and how you’ll win.

Goals/OKR Cycle Guide

A FREE downloadable guide and canvas to establish a quarterly rhythm for OKRs and Goals.

OKR Essentials Cheat Sheet

Download the free cheat sheet to guide you through building and refreshing OKRs.

Join 50,000 Other Leaders Engaged in Transforming Their Organizations

Subscrbe to get the latest agile strategy best practices, free guides, case studies, and videos in your inbox every other week.

We Believe in Empowering Teams to do Amazing
Work, Consistently and Passionately

Success isn’t a list of flashy logos. It’s about helping anyone who wants to lead a great organization.
If that’s you, join our list of clients – you’re in good company:

Armen EZR Multnomah RHA SEO Monitor
Chobani Cisco Armen KIA Patagonia
Concordia College Davenport Fairbanks St. John's Washoe County School District
Boys and Girls Club BSA Cancer Society Maryland Food Bank Make A Wish
CMPD Long Beach San Francisco City of Sparks Washoe County